Sports. My kids love them. Football, track, baseball, soccer, softball, field hockey, volleyball, we’ve done them all. I love that my kids play sports. Being involved in team sports teaches them valuable life skills, skills that can’t be taught in a classroom. Teammates learn to work together, to support each other, they push each other to be the best they can be. Healthy competition drives athletes to hone their skills and find their gifts. The physical activity keeps their bodies healthy and active and some studies even say it improves their academic achievement. Busy schedules and the threat of academic probation forces students to keep up with their classes, sufficiently study and meet deadlines.
Coaches. I can’t say enough good things about them. Coaches are usually some of the most caring individuals in a student’s life. They spend an enormous amount of time with their teams and therefore get to know the athletes in a way few others do. They usually know when something isn’t right whether it is physically, emotionally or academically and most aren’t afraid to confront students when that is the case. Coaches are invested in their athletes and want them healthy in every sense of the word.
As you can see, I view organized sports as a huge positive in the life of any student. So what I’m going to say next may come as a bit of a surprise. Sometimes too much of a good thing isn’t such a good thing. When a team sports begins to take the place of a family, sports has overstepped its bounds. The most important team your child will ever be a part of is his or her family. When practices, games, and mandatory team building events begin to encroach on family time, it is time to put on the brakes. You child may play this sport for a season or the rest of his educational career. A few may even make a career out of it. No matter how long they play, they will always need their family.
Parents, keep sports in perspective. It is a great part of your child’s life, but your family’s life should not revolve around it. Make sure you draw the line and it doesn’t take over. Other family members need to be taken into account. Siblings will become bitter if all they do is follow the family athlete around watching them compete. Sports and the required equipment can be expensive. Do not invest in them to the detriment of your family’s budget. College and retirement funds should take precedence over equipment. If you are investing in a sport thinking your child will go to college on a scholarship, you are probably making a poor bet. Sports scholarships are incredibly competitive and hard to come by. Even if your child manages to get one, if grades slip or an injury occurs, it could be gone in an instant. That $500 you spent on a bat could have bought a semester worth of books.
Our two remaining high school students will both be played sports this fall. They both missed their first two games. These games were planned for Labor Day weekend. Yup, Labor Day weekend. The last holiday weekend of the summer. The weekend when many families get away for one last fun filled family trip before the routine of the school year begins. We have standing reservations. Every year we go to the beach for Labor Day. This year was no different. Holidays are a time for family and friends. As much as I support my children in their chosen sports, our family time will ALWAYS come first. Sorry coaches, I know you love them too, but this is our time and you simply can’t have it. I’m not sure why the powers that be decide to schedule things on holidays, but maybe if more parents would put their foot down, draw that line in the sand, the powers that be would stop. Don’t worry, the rest of the season we were on the sidelines cheering them on, but Labor Day weekend was spent enjoying the last of the sun and the surf of the summer.